As a world centre of entrepreneurialism, London is home to hundreds of thousands of small businesses. It’s the Mayor of London’s role to support, connect and listen to these organizations, making sure they have what they need to thrive. Much of this outreach and support takes place through the London Growth Hub; an online portal, message board and events directory managed jointly by the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. As part of a digital strategy review, the Mayor’s office invited Browser to help its internal team take the platform to the next level.
When Browser joined the project, the London Growth Hub was a functional but unfocused product that was clunky to use. This stopped the platform delivering the value the Mayor of London, Greater London Authority and London’s small businesses needed it to.
The brief to Browser was to take ownership of long-term digital strategy for the service, transform the platform’s digital service design to better serve this strategy, and provide the developmental expertise and horsepower needed to implement the changes.
The endpoint of the project was a reshaped and reinvigorated platform, better positioned to serve its users and, by extension, London as a whole.
To start the engagement our team audited the service design, features, and positioning of the platform, benchmarking these elements against end-user needs through a process of qualitative user testing and quantitative web analytics research.
This gave our team a birds-eye view of the platform’s intricacies, allowing us to define how well it met its user’s needs. From this foundation, we worked with the client’s stakeholders to develop a strategic product vision; an illustration of how the product needed to evolve and grow in the future so as to achieve its goals.
With the overarching direction of the platform agreed, our team was able to triage the looming mountain of ideas, feature requests and design changes that constituted the product’s development backlog. Here, our role was to bring structure to the process (through Agile methodologies) and to take responsibility for maintaining a focus on the long-term objectives of the London Growth Hub.
Over time, our remit grew to include developing and maintaining the digital product’s content and branding strategy, in conjunction with the team at Bloomberg Associates.
We allow Browser to take the lead and make changes in the areas they know well, but they always give us the broader context and some options to allow us to make the final call.
Bringing structure to the management of the London Growth Hub meant bringing the right tools to bear on the processes underpinning the platform.
Here, we drew on our expertise in strategic management methodologies to deploy specialist frameworks such as Design Thinking and Design Sprint 2.0 (to quickly test and prioritise ideas) and Jobs to be Done (to evaluate user needs). These brought direction and rigour to the ideation and prioritisation processes of the London Growth Hub team.
Throughout both the research and development phases, we deployed the structured work sprints of the Agile method, as recommended by the Government Digital Service (GDS) handbook and the GDS Design Principles. This ensured transparency, giving all stakeholders a view on what work was being undertaken.
From the start, it was made clear by the client that reorienting and reinvigorating the London Growth Hub platform was a long term project. This meant they needed a partner that was trustworthy, patient and able to take responsibility for continually asking, ‘what’s next’.
Our long history of working with public sector organisations such as the NHS, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and our award-winning work with Transport Focus, has bred these traits into our team. We pride ourselves on understanding the complexities of working in the public sector, and having an instinct for how to best share our digital strategy expertise and experience within that setting.
We’re a tricky organization to work with since we can’t make any quick decisions, but Browser has been really understanding. They’re really good at laying out deadlines and they’ve been a great technical expertise to rely on.
During this project, our role of taking responsibility and providing experience and continuity, even across team changes at the client, has been vital in maintaining momentum with the platform’s evolution and growth.
As end-user needs continue to change and evolve, so does the London Growth Hub platform.
Our program of continual user research helps guide this process of evolution, providing data-led recommendations about which future feature sets would generate maximum value for users.
Over the next year, we plan to radically overhaul the way the platform deals with video content, for example, introducing remote business consultations and distributed events for home workers. Equally, our testing and research data suggests that the introduction of gamification features could lead to a step-change in user engagement and interaction on the platform.
London Growth Hub is a business support service run under the banner of the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. Browser took responsibility for the legacy platform and developed and executed a long-term, user-focused strategy for the service. Since our involvement, the platform has grown and strengthened, even receiving additional investment in 2019.